Around 8000 health and wellness centers have become operational in 35 states and union territories under the government’s flagship Ayushman Bharat scheme, Union Minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey said Saturday. Under the program, the health ministry has set a target to transform nearly 1.5 lakh primary health centers and sub-centers as health and wellness centers by 2022 to provide comprehensive and quality primary care close to the community. These centers will be equipped to provide treatment for diseases such as blood pressure, diabetes, cancer and old age-related ailments. “The government is rapidly moving forward in providing comprehensive primary healthcare through health and wellness centers (HWCs). I am happy to inform that about 8000 HWCs have become operational in 35 states and UTs,” the Union Minister of State for Health said. Chairing the 6th meeting of the National Health Mission Steering Group, Choubey said NHM was vital for supporting the states in improving their health systems. “The prime minister’s announcement for heightened focus on the aspirational districts also provides us with significant leverage point to address long persisting inequities and development lag in these districts. This will be strengthened through NHM,” he said.
During the meeting, it was highlighted that under the NHM-Free Drug Service initiative, funds are being provided to states and union territories for provision of free drugs in public health facilities and setting up of IT-backed systems for drug procurement and quality assurance. Under the NHM Free Diagnostics Service initiative, substantial funding is provided to states within their resource envelope to provide free essential diagnostic services at public health facilities. The program has been rolled out in states and union territories which are providing free diagnostic services either in-house or on PPP mode. The issues discussed in the meeting also included prevention and control of viral hepatitis, immunization, comprehensive primary healthcare, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and newer intervention under Revised National TB Control Program among others. Representatives from the ministries of AYUSH, Tribal Affairs, Women and Child Development, Drinking Water and Sanitation, Panchayati Raj, Rural Development, Urban Affairs and Social Justice and Empowerment, and the and Department of Higher Education were present at the meeting, along with members from the civil society and experts in the field of healthcare. – Business Standard